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In today's tight economy and competitive eye-care/eyewear market, it is important for eye-care professionals to explore every opportunity to uncover untapped potential revenue streams.
Ancillary income from the sales of annual supplies of contact lenses; accessories: readers/clips/chains/cleaners; plano sunglasses; gift certificates; and medical exam/testing can add a tremendous amount of profit to your bottom line and enhance the "customer delight" factor.
Reading glasses offer the current biggest opportunity for incremental income in the accessory category. This segment of the market shows the strongest growth as evidenced in 2007 when we witnessed an increase of 32.5%.
In a recent survey created, deployed, and summarized by The Vision Council, it was determined that of those practices that did stock readers, they only sell 2.8 pair per week. This can be attributed to the "self-serve" sales tactic commonly used for accessories.
To tap into this potential revenue stream, don't wait for readers to sell themselves. Present them to all patients in this category as an additional solution.
Steps to boosting ancillary income
1. Communicate what you have. Patients cannot buy what they do not know you have. Investing time, thought, and resources to develop the appropriate marketing, merchandising, and promotion of your ancillary goods and services can provide the best return on investment for this effort to increase supplemental income.
Consider ways to showcase these goods and services and make the buying experience fun and easy. For accessories, keep the displays clean and well-stocked. Rotate themes and product colors seasonally to keep them fresh and alluring.
2. Do not sacrifice quality or integrity to increase revenue. Make sure the quality of your accessories is in line with the quality and image of the rest of your product offerings and practice image. Don't devalue the importance of having optical quality goods in all categories.
Never oversell or push extra products or services on your patients. Always maintain your needs-based style of presenting eyecare/eyewear solutions.
Rene D. Soltis, FNAO, is senior director of meetings and education for The Vision Council, Alexandria, VA. With more than 34 years of experience as a dispensing optician, Soltis also serves as a liaison to the conference advisory board of International Vision Expo. All data in this column are provided by The Vision Council's Industry Research Services.